A 77-year-old man accused of bludgeoning a 75-year-old woman to death in her Palm Springs residence, where he was a houseguest, must stand trial on a murder charge, a judge ruled Monday.
Stephen Roy McKernan was arrested hours after allegedly killing Claire Carsman on April 22, 2019, in the home she shared with her husband in the 300 block of Pico Road. McKernan had known the victim and her husband for several years, and the couple had invited him to stay at their home, according to police.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Otis Sterling ruled that prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on a first-degree murder charge and sentence-enhancing weapons and great bodily injury allegations. Sterling scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Sept. 8.
On the day of his wife’s death, the husband testified that he left home and headed to an area casino about 11 a.m. and returned about 6 p.m. to find her dead. When he left, only his wife and McKernan were home, he said.
An expert in blood spatter analysis testified that blood found on the defendant’s shoes, shirt and pants indicate that he was near the victim when she was struck with blunt force, which caused the blood to splatter.
Palm Springs police officers were sent to the victim’s home about 6 p.m. on a medical aid call and found Carsman dead amid signs of “significant trauma.”
McKernan, who has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County, remains in custody at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside in lieu of $1 million bail.
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